Church of the Brethren
Rachel Gross, Director
P.O. Box 600
Liberty Mills, IN 46946


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DRSP News, Issue 15, August 2017

By Tara Collum

133 new pen pals in May; 106 in June.


The DRSP staff was overjoyed to hear from a pen pal about her correspondence with Antonio. Kathryn wrote, "All of his family have passed away, he never had children. He has been alone for so so long. He's told me that God sent me to him; he's cried with tears of joy that he has someone to speak to. We are family now. Thank you, firstly on Antonio's behalf. He would have spent the rest of his life with no outside contact. No one to assure him that he's more than an inmate, more than his crime, more than his booking number. And thank you, thank you so much from me and my husband. We love Antonio, we're grateful you matched us."

From last August on, we have been blessed, but also challenged, by so many people signing up to write that we don’t have enough letters from prisoners to go around. Our response has been to offer an option of reaching out to a prisoner who has not requested a pen pal from DRSP. We are grateful to all of you who have been willing to reach out to an unknown person on death row, even though many of you do not get a response. Kathryn was one who chose the option of a randomly selected name; because of responses like the one from Antonio, we will continue to invite people to participate in this way.


While many states no longer use capital punishment, and several states that haven't outlawed the practice have governor-dictated moratoriums, or haven’t executed a prisoner in decades, other outlier states represent an outsized number of executions. Ohio is one of those states. After a forced hiatus resulting from a botched 2014 execution and a prolonged legal battle over their lethal injection methods, Ohio has resumed executions, and the governor has signed death warrants for 27 prisoners from now until 2020.

Please write, e-mail, or tweet Governor John Kasich to let him know how you feel about Ohio's executions and how capital punishment impacts the reputation of his state.

Write Governor John Kasich, Riffe Center, 30th Floor, 77 South High Street, Columbus, OH 43215-6117
Tweet @JohnKasich

Florida is also resuming executions, with a prisoner set to be put to death August 24. The state's last execution was in January 2016. Until recently Florida was one of the only states to allow a prisoner to be sentenced to death if the jury wasn't unanimous, and Florida lawmakers fought to keep it that way. Prosecutors were in favour of a "supermajority" where a 9-3 split jury could condemn a prisoner. The Supreme Court ruled those laws were unconstitutional, and that a jury must be unanimous in death row cases. Up to 75% of the prisoners on Florida's death row were sent there by a split jury. This ruling has forced the state to resentence many; so far 100 prisoners have had their death sentences overturned. If you are writing to someone on Florida death row whose sentencing is being reconsidered, you can find the status at this site:


The Church of the Brethren first took an official position regarding the death penalty 60 years ago, in 1957. Their opposition to it, most recently affirmed in 1987, is summarized in this statement: "Jesus Christ came with a message of redemption and compassion for life, while the death penalty carries a message of condemnation and death." The entire statement, including guidelines for action, can be found at Financial contributions to support the work of the Death Row Support Project and the Church of the Brethren can be made at

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